Anatomy of a WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ
Pipe chest restoration begins.
The next parts to come to hand were the Bourdon offset chests. Fortunately the
first installment of leather arrived, only 15 months after I had first tried to get it,
before I had completed the preparation stage on the first chest so I was actually
able to complete the reassembly of the first part.
What was the biggest surprise when I opened the first chest was how clean it was.
There was no coal dust coating everything as seems to be common in most
instruments. That says something about the benefits of living out in rural areas
all your life instead of in big dirty cities. It sure makes it nicer to work on.
The leather looked like it would last for a few more years but I decided to stay with
my original intention to rebuild and replace everything and not be tempted to take
any short cuts.
Some screws were rusted and otherwise damaged and some screw holes were stripped.
Finding replacement screws was a problem. Most screws available today are not as
well made as the originals. I seems that screw distributors in Australia have decided
that no one has any need for round headed wood screws anymore so it is very difficult
to get what is needed. Sometimes it has been possible to get the right size screw in brass
when it is not available in steel. I have had to resort to getting screws from the US. The
problem with having an assortment of old, new, steel and brass screws is that it ends up
looking a mess. To overcome this I chose to make all the screws look the same by
painting all the heads black, with a rust inhibiting epoxy enamel paint. This added a
little more time to things. Each screw head, and washer, is sanded back to clean metal
before being painted. Holding the round headed screws in the chuck of a cordless drill
and spinning them is a lot easier and safer than trying to hold the screw and apply it to
moving sand paper. It does make things look a lot better and it should prevent rust
from appearing again for a while.
The two 6-note Bourdon chests each took 70-80 hours.